JWR Roger SimonMona CharenLinda Chavez
Jacob SullumJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellWilliam PfaffRobert Scheer
Don FederCal Thomas
Left, Right & Center
Jewish World Review / March 24, 1998 / 26 Adar, 5758

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell "A pattern of behavior"

WHETHER OR NOT Paula Jones' lawyers manage to prove a legal case involving "a pattern of behavior" by Bill Clinton, there is a very clear pattern in how leaks from this case and the Whitewater case have been handled.

Most of what the Paula Jones lawyers made public had already been leaked out, taking the wind out of their sails. Who gained by these leaks? Clearly the president gained.

When damaging information leaks out, the president and his supporters and spin- masters can say that this is just hearsay -- and illegally leaked hearsay, at that. Then they can wax indignant that "partisan" enemies would stoop to such low tactics and refuse to dignify it with an answer.

As more and more such information dribbles out bit by bit, the public is less likely to put it all together and connect the dots that create the big picture. When it eventually gets confirmed, the White House spokesmen can now dismiss it as "old news."

Had we heard none of the testimony in the Paula Jones case over the past months and suddenly saw it all, with all the connections made, it would obviously have had more impact.

The leaks about the Whitewater investigation show the same pattern. Things that are virtually certain to come out eventually, whether in court or in impeachment hearings, are being leaked out in bits and dabs. What could special prosecutor Kenneth Starr gain by tipping his hand ahead of time?

What Clinton and his lawyers gain is an opportunity to put their "spin" on these facts for months at a time, on talk show after talk show, around the clock, while Kenneth Starr is not allowed by law to say one word in public about the grand jury proceedings. Leaks obviously come from someone with something to gain by leaking.

The grand jury testimony is known to many people besides the special prosecutor and the grand jury, who are the only ones forbidden by law from revealing what went on in the grand jury room. All the witnesses can talk to the lawyers, to the media or to anyone else they want to.

The White House lawyers have been talking to these witnesses and have as much material to leak as Kenneth Starr has -- and far more reason to do it.

What incentive would the special prosecutor have for setting up a totally one-sided situation in which his opponents are free to carry on in the media to their hearts' content -- and with no penalty whatever for lying -- while he is not allowed to say a word?

The biggest spin being put on these cases is that Bill Clinton's "private life" or "sexual activities" are nobody's business. But when the governor of a state calls a state employee to his hotel room, that is not a "private" act, even if he just wants her to get him some paper clips.

Whether what happened in that hotel room was totally innocent or disgustingly guilty, it was not private. It was a state employee summoned by a governor. It was certainly not private if he used a state trooper to bring her there.

It is the same thing when a woman on the White House staff goes into the Oval Office. That is not a private place, even if what goes on there involves touching private parts.

Courts of law are not private places. When you try to get somebody to lie to a judge or a jury, that is not a private act.

Gifts may be private when you give them, but they become evidence when they are subpoenaed by a court and you are tampering with evidence when you then try to take them back.

Your friendships are private, but when your friend starts getting cushy jobs for people who are witnesses in a court case, then that is something for public officials to investigate, as the special prosecutor is doing.

Perhaps the people who are most pathetic in all this are those who are standing by the president, right or wrong, because they think he "cares" about them.

Think of the humiliation that all this is bringing to Clinton's own family and especially to his teen-aged daughter. She can't turn on a television set without seeing her father's sleaze being discussed or made the subject of jokes. She must know that all the kids around her are seeing it too.

If Clinton doesn't care enough to spare his own flesh and blood the humiliations caused by his reckless behavior, why would anyone think that he "cares" about strangers?


3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.